Geraldine Patten and Andrew Martin have turned an awkward 1970s semi in London into the quintessential 21st century family home.

When Geraldine Patten and Andrew Martin considered what could be done with their perfectly located, generously gardened but rather small (and certainly uninspired, design-wise) semi-detached house in West Hampstead, they knew it needed something but, apart from knowing they needed some extra bedrooms upstairs, couldn’t really see exactly what.

“We recognised that the house lacked something in design terms, but more pragmatically, as a soon-to-be growing family we needed extra bedroom space,” explains Andrew. The two bedroom semi-detached house sits in a favourable spot and enjoys, unusually for these parts, a large garden. Inside, it was perfectly adequate but lacking in flowing space.

“We had spent a couple of years living in the place before we decided to do anything — which turned out to be a very useful time for assessing what we really liked and didn’t like about the house,” says Andrew. “In the end, we knew we needed some design experience and simply did a search on the internet. We came across William Tozer Architecture & Design (WTAD) and a few other practices. When we saw the scheme William Tozer came up with, we knew it was what we had been after all along.”

The proposal sought to comprehensively remodel the interiors of the existing house at the same time as extending on two sides — topped off with an external makeover that would bring the house fully into the 21st century.

At first glance, this looks like your classic run-of-the-mill ‘opening up’ extension with sliding doors (in this instance from I-D-Systems) opening out onto the garden. But this is something special, and a much more bespoke solution to the design issues that the house faced. For a start, horizontal glazed openings were introduced into the flat roof of the extended kitchen/dining space as well as into the remodelled study allowing a lovely diffused light into what would otherwise have been very dark spaces. Secondly, the ground floor really has become an open plan classic, perfect for highlighting the outside space. At the same time it’s zoned cleverly — not just through the traditional kitchen/eating/living approach but also with a young child’s play area packed with toys, a TV area and, at the near end, a seating area based around music. Upstairs, an extension over the study/utility space allows room for the two extra bedrooms.

The two extensions have enabled the house to be transformed from the outside, too. The first floor extension has been clad in horizontally boarded open-jointed western redcedar, while the ground floor ‘garden’ extension has been white rendered. “We’re delighted,” says Andrew. “We never thought the project would take on this sort of dimension and scope, but we’re glad that we took it as far as we did. We’ve used the best things about the existing house and now we’ve got a perfect family home in a brilliant location.”

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